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« White Privilege | Main | Dale and Sally Rooks »

September 24, 2008


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Margaret Oomen

OMG those dressed up bunnies are adorable and I can't believe the patience he must have had to achieve those poses. I am in awe. I have trouble getting my kitties to sit still , they always seem to jump as soon as the finger pushes down on the button. I have some experience with photographing snails and insects which Elsita might have shared with you but never fully dressed bunnies. I had comments from people who thought my photograph of snails in warm cozy sweaters had been photoshopped and they were very surprised that it was real and that I never harm any of my little models.

Margaret Oomen

I was at work when I made the above comment and I couldn't remember the name of someone who took photographs of pets in clothes before Dale Rooks. Harry Whittier Frees was photographing his pets and also borrowing some in the early 1900's. This is one of my favorite photographs of his.


Thanks Margaret. Love the Frees photo. It reminds me of another one of my favorite artists, Louis Wain, and inspires me to write a blog about him soon.


This is one of my favorite subjects! I love children's books that are illustrated with photography. The Red Balloon was my favorite introduction to them, but I found The Lonely Doll too disturbing when I was a kid. (Have you seen the recently released DVD of "The Red Balloon?" It is beautiful!) Back in '96, I "wrote" & illustrated a children's book using Photoshop. It was the first book of its kind, as Photoshop was brand new and much more complicated to use than it is now. One of the reasons the publisher was excited about it was because photo illustrated books for kids are usually a tough sell. The publishers think that they lack the fantasy of other styles of illustration. Manipulating photographs removes that problem, and can even add to the fantasy. I think that it is this fantasy element that makes these bunny photos so captivating. It's like evidence of the secret lives of animals. The bunnies are more convincing to me than the cats & dogs, probably because their facial expressions are harder to read. Sometimes the dogs just look so bored or sleepy. It doesn't matter to my son, though; he can look at Harry Frees' Four Little Puppies over and over in spite of the boring text!

Three Little Bunnies must descend from one of Frees' books, Four Little Bunnies. Here's a great picture from that book: The same publisher that reprints Frees' books, B. Shackman Company, publishes reproductions of English antique die-cut books, a genre that features lots of dressed up animals.

My book is called The Ring (no relation to the horror film!), and I'd love to send you a copy for Diego if you email me your address. It will be like a reverse-giveaway!



I have not been able to get these dressed-up animals out of my head since I read this post. I couldn't find anything authoritative about Dale Rooks either (I can't resist someone saying they couldn't find much about a subject; it feels like a challenge to me), but there is a fascinating series of photos and a mini-memoir by one of Rooks' human models at: It gives a few details about his life in Grand Rapids. Apparently he was quite the local star.


I have been passing on my childhood books to the children of long-time friends of mine. But I kept just a few; not sure why. So this morning (Easter) I was looking at my books to see if I wanted to give any more away while I visit my friends shortly in Fla. I saw my copy of "Three Little Bunnies" and pulled it out to look at it again for the umpteenth time. It was given to me by my grandmother in 1953. In looking at the credits inside, I decided to look up Dale Rooks. So nice to see that others appreciate his photographs as much as I do. I will hold on to it for a few more years, then pass it on. But I am not quite ready yet, as is the case with just a few other childhood books, comics, and dolls. Happy Easter!

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I don't know why they like bunnies. they are pretty common in kids cartoon. I prefer that they based the cartoon in animals that people are afraid to decrease their fear to save those species that they are near to extinction

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